The UConn baseball team may have a lot of fight in them, but sometimes it’s not enough to overcome three late inning deficits in a row.
UConn (5-4) dropped two out of three to the Liberty Flames (7-5) in Lynchburg, Va. In all three games, the Huskies found themselves mounting a comeback in the late innings; only one of those efforts resulted in a win.
On Friday afternoon, UConn jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first, courtesy of a Liberty error. The Huskies had the bases loaded with one out, but failed to capitalize after Bryan Daniello struck out and Bobby Melley was thrown out at home.
Failing to capitalize would become the theme for the weekend.
Both teams remained scoreless until the bottom of the third, when the Flames exploded for four runs against Anthony Kay to make the score 4-1. The Huskies rallied for two runs in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to 4-3, but Kay would give up three more runs in the bottom frame to make the score 7-3 in favor of Liberty.
Kay was promptly taken out of the game and finished the day with a line of 5.0 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 2 BB and 5 SO.
The Flames tacked on one more run in the bottom of the seventh before UConn began to make things interesting in the top of the ninth. After pinch hitter Connor Buckley struck out, Jack Sundberg walked and Yahn singled to make it first and third with one out. Melley doubled to plate both Huskies, but the rally was cut short there as Joe Duffin and Tyler Gnesda struck out to end the game.
Melley was UConn’s best performer of the day, going 2-for-3 with two walks and four RBI.
On Saturday, Liberty wasted no time to get on the board. The Flames scored all of their runs in the first three innings to jump out to a quick 5-0 lead. Sophomore starter Willie Montgomery lasted only 1.1 innings for the Huskies before being relieved by Jack Riley. Riley also only lasted an inning and was replaced by Tim Cate.
Cate fared better than his teammates, going 4.2 innings letting up only two hits while striking out five. The stellar relief allowed the Huskies to begin chipping away at the Flames’ lead.
The Huskies loaded the bases in the top of the sixth, and Duffin scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-1. The Huskies left them loaded, but exploded for three runs in the top of the seventh, courtesy of a Daniello triple that scored two and a John Toppa single that plated one. UConn now only trailed Liberty by one, 5-4.
The Huskies looked all but done in the ninth after Melley flied out to start the inning. However, Duffin smacked a towering home run to left center to knot the score at 5 and force extra innings. Daniello plated two in the 11th to help UConn defeat Liberty 7-5 in 11.
Daniello finished the game going 3-for-5 with one run, one walk and four R.B.I.
Sunday’s game felt a lot like Friday’s. While it was the lowest scoring game of the weekend, it was characterized by an early lead being coughed away and more missed opportunities for UConn.
With freshman Ronnie Rossomando getting his first collegiate start for the Huskies, Sundberg led off the game by smacking his second career home run to right field, giving UConn an early 1-0 lead.
Liberty tied the game in the bottom of the second as a result of a throwing error by shortstop Daniello. UConn responded in the top of the third when Alex LeFevre scored on Yahn’s R.B.I. single.
Both teams were scoreless in the fourth, but the Flames scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth off of Rossomando to retake the lead, 3-2. John Russell relieved Rossomando after he went 4.1 innings with five hits, two earned runs and five walks.
UConn went down 1-2-3 in the top of the sixth, and Liberty scored two more runs on three hits off Russell to make the score 5-2. Doug Domnarski promptly replaced Russell and went on to hold Liberty to one hit through the next 1.1 innings.
The Huskies began playing comeback kids again in the top of the eighth. With two outs, Duffin smacked a double down the left field line to score Melley and Yahn and close the gap to 5-4.
However, it was too little too late for UConn. Daniello grounded out to end the inning, and failed to capitalize with two men on in the top of the ninth. They lost the rubber match by a final score of 5-4.
Over the course of the weekend, the Huskeis left a total of 28 men on base. UConn will have to improve their game play with runners in scoring position when they take on in-state rival Yale this Tuesday, March 8 at J.O. Christian Field in Storrs. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Stephanie Sheehan is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She tweets @steph_sheehan.